Watch our 2 min Fuel Poverty Video
Fuel Poverty Facts
(A fact sheet on fuel poverty)
What is Fuel Poverty
(also known as Energy Poverty in other parts of the world)
The UK government defines fuel poverty as
A household is said to be in fuel poverty if it needs to spend more than 10%
of its income on fuel to maintain a satisfactory heating regime (usually 21
degrees for the main living area, and 18 degrees for other occupied rooms).
Fuel poverty is caused by the interaction of a number of factors, but three
specifically stand out. These are:
1. The energy efficiency status of the property
2. The cost of energy
3. Household income
How many People are in Fuel Poverty in the
In 2005, 2.5 million households in the UK
were classed as fuel poor.
This figure can be found alongside other detailed information in the report
below by clicking the link:
UK fuel poverty strategy - 5th Fuel Poverty Annual Progress Report 2007
In 2006 an estimated 3.5 million households in the UK were classed as fuel
In 2007 an estimated 4.5 million households in the UK were classed as fuel
(Based on facts from Age Concern)
By the end of 2008 it is estimated that
around 6 million households will be forced into fuel poverty due to an
average increase of 43% in energy bills.
Estimations vary from different sources
however one must be mindful of the massive increases in energy prices that
recently occurred in Britain.
For instance The National Housing Association
has revealed in a report the following:
5.7m households will be spending at least 10%
of their income on energy bills by the end of 2009 – an increase of 100%
over 2005 levels.
With annual electricity bills due to increase to over £500 per year, and gas
bills to increase to around £900, by 2010, the report shows that the number
of people struggling to pay their bills will increase to record levels.
According to the report, 5,720,000 households will be in fuel poverty by the
end of next year compared to 2,400,000 in 2005 (and 3,774,000 at the end of
2007). This means that 13.4m people will be hit by fuel poverty in 2009 –
which equates to 23% of the British population.
In 2005, the average energy bill per annum was £676. However, next year this
is set to rocket to £1,406.
More about their findings are in the link
To find out more energy price increases this
year please see the section below.
How does Fuel Poverty affect the
Older people are more likely to be hit the
hardest when it comes to increases in fuel prices and are more prone to cold
related illnesses which in many cases result in death.
Based on 2006 statistics and sourced from Age
11.3 million were over State Pension Age this
was up 420,000 since 2002
7.2 million women were aged 60 and over
9.7 million people were aged 65 and over, of whom 4.2 million were men
5.5 million were women
2.7 million were aged over 80, up 220,000 since 2002
63% of UK pensioners receive at least half
their income from State Pensions and benefits
The UK has more people aged over 60 than under 16
Age Concern estimates that more than 1 in 3
pensioner households are likely to be in fuel poverty by the end of the year
The number of pensioner households in fuel
poverty has more than doubled since 2004. Age Concern estimates since the
latest round of energy price hikes there are now around 2.5 million older
households in fuel poverty in the UK.
Older people experiencing fuel poverty are
most likely to be over 75, on a low income particularly means-tested
benefits and living alone.
By 2031 almost a quarter of the population will be over state pension age
Fuel Poverty and Excess Winter Deaths
Nearly 90 per cent of all excess winter deaths are of people over the age of
65. Older people are particularly at risk of dying during the winter as they
are often less resilient to cold-related illnesses, especially people with
existing health problems.
For every degree Celsius that winter is colder than average, an extra
8000 deaths result.
Britain has one of the highest rates of
excess winter deaths in Europe
Excess Winter Deaths are defined by the Office of National Statistics. They
are the difference between the number of deaths during the four winter
months (December to March) and the average number of deaths during the
preceding autumn (August to November) and the following summer (April to
Exposure to the cold does affect the number of winter deaths, but it is very
unusual for the cold to kill people directly. In the main these deaths are
from respiratory or cardio-vascular ailments. Overall deaths are from heart
attacks, strokes, bronchial and other conditions, and may often occur
several days after exposure to the cold.
Spending too long in the cold will lower the body temperature which can
often aggravate circulatory diseases, which can lead to strokes and heart
attacks or respiratory illnesses such as bronchitis or pneumonia.
Other reasons why older people are particularly at
Older people with existing health problems are more at risk, so they need
to take extra care when it is cold.
Older people are less able to judge if they are warm or cold, meaning they
may not put on an extra jumper or put on the heating before they get too
Many older people tend to live in older houses with inefficient heating
systems and/or no insulation. This makes it harder to heat their homes.
Older people often try to cut their energy bills by reducing the amount of
heating they use or choosing to wrap up warm instead.
Older people on low incomes spend up to 30 per cent less on food than is
needed for a healthy balanced diet. This puts their physical and mental
well-being at risk and could make them more vulnerable to the cold.
Deaths from Cold Related Illnesses
The number of additional deaths (or excess
winter deaths) occurring in winter varies depending on temperature and the
level of disease in the population, as well as other factors. The elderly
experience the greatest increase in deaths each winter.
24,650 people over 65 died in 2005/2006.
During that period 2.5 million households were in fuel poverty.
There is a danger that with fuel poverty
levels rising to 5.5 million in 2007 this figure could seriously increase
especially if there is a Flu epidemic such as the one in 1999/2000 where
there were approximately 59,000 excess winter deaths.
Watch Our 2 minute Fuel Poverty Video
Energy Prices of the Big 6 Energy
Table showing average annual household energy bill in 2008
information from uSwitch.com - released 29th Aug 2008
Standard Plan after second price rise
Total increase since 1st January 2008
Scottish and Southern Energy
Bill sizes based on a medium user profile (20,500kWh of gas 3,300kWh of
electricity per annum). Bill sizes averaged across all regions. Customer
taking a standard Dual Fuel plan, paying on receipt of bill.